UK firm to offer pay-as-you-go solar power to 100,000 homes in Ghana

A pay-as-you-go solar power scheme that aims to provide 100,000 homes in rural Ghana with clean power has been launched by UK energy specialist Azuri Technologies.

According to the firm’s website, the system provides eight hours of lighting a day and the opportunity to charge mobile phones at home.

After paying a small installation fee, the user purchases a scratch card or uses a mobile money service to top up their unit. The price charged is calculated to be up to 50% less than would have been spent on kerosene and phone charging.

After 18 months of payments, the buyer owns the equipment, which means that it is "unlocked" and therefore not limited to eight hours a day, or they can opt to upgrade to a larger model.

Ghana is suffering its worst power crisis in 10 years and the GDP growth forecast for 2015 has been degraded from 4.2% to 3.9% owing to power outages.

Azuri Technologies is rolling out the system in partnership with Ghana-based Oasis African Resource. 

The companies point out that as well as providing power, the elimination of kerosene is expected to have significant public health benefits: two-thirds of female lung cancer victims are thought to have contracted the disease by inhaling particulates from kerosene lamps. 

The World Bank estimates that 780 million women and children inhale the fumes in developing countries, which it says is equivalent to smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. It puts the death rate from cooking fires – the "killer in the kitchen" – at 1.5 million a year.

Azuri is basing its business model on the fact that whereas 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity, mobile phones are ubiquitous, and can act as the key enabling technology to fund off grid energy solutions.

Azuri is based in Cambridge, and employs staff in Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Image: A Ghanaian woman with a solar power unity (Source: Azuri Technologies)

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